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Explain the importance of understanding the accurate needs of populations during the development of a program hypothesis and plan.

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Week 2: Identifying Need

Imagine you are the director of a nonprofit human services organization created to assist low-income families. You want to implement a new program to address the issue of childcare for parents who work long hours. You gather a team of your colleagues at the organization to brainstorm ideas, and eventually two options emerge. Half of your team supports creating a weekday after-school program, while the other half recommends creating a weekend daycare program. Your organization only has the funding to support one option. How would you determine which option would be most beneficial for low-income families? By conducting a needs assessment, you can determine the needs of your target population and choose the option that will best meet those needs. It is critical, however, that you have identified the real need of the population, rather than assuming you know what it is from preliminary information.

This week, you will explore four different types of needs: normative, expressed, perceived, and relative. You will consider how the type of need influences the necessary response and analyze the importance of accurately identifying needs. You will also compare the effects of designing a program that targets one type of need to a program that addresses a variety of needs.  


By the end of this week, you should be able to:

· Analyze normative, expressed, perceived, and relative needs of homeless populations

· Analyze perceived need versus real need

· Analyze importance of accurately understanding populations’ needs

Learning Resources

Required Readings

Kettner, P. M., Moroney, R. M., & Martin, L. L. (2017). Designing and managing programs: An effectiveness-based approach (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 

· Chapter 1, “Contemporary Issues in Human Service Program Planning and Administration” (Review pp. 13–15)

· Chapter 2, “The Contribution of Theory to Program Planning”

· Chapter 3, “Understanding Social Problems”

· Chapter 4, “Needs Assessment: Theoretical Considerations” (pp. 49–61)

Øyen, E. (2006). Needs. Poverty: An International Glossary, 138–139.

Giffords, E., Alonso, C., & Bell, R. (2007). A transitional living program for homeless adolescents: A case study. Child & Youth Care Forum, 36(4), 141–151.

Blue-Howells, J., McGuire, J., & Nakashima, J. (2008). Co-location of health care services for homeless veterans: A case study of innovation in program implementation. Social Work in Health Care, 47(3), 219–231.

Glisson, G. M., Thyer, B. A., & Fischer, R. L. (2001). Serving the homeless: Evaluating the effectiveness of homeless shelter services. Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, 28(4), 89–97.

Street Sense. (2011). Retrieved from

Homeless Voice. (2010). Retrieved from

Optional Resources

Guterman, N. B. (2002). The role of research in defining a ‘practiceable’ problem for social work: The parallax of community and family violence exposure among children and youths. Social Work Education, 21(3), 313–322.

Retrieved from the Walden Library using the SocINDEX with Full Text.

Coverstone, J. (n.d.). What is a needs assessment? An introduction [PowerPoint presentation]. Retrieved December 2, 2011, from

Traynor, V., & Dennis, S. (n.d.). Needs assessment[PowerPoint presentation]. Retrieved December 2, 2011, from

Eastern Access Community Health. (n.d.). What are the types of needs? Retrieved December 2, 2011, from

Discussion: Identifying the Types of Needs

Needs assessment should play a significant role in the planning, implementation, and management of effective human services programs. Human services programs typically seek to address four different types of needs: normative, expressed, perceived (or felt), and relative (or comparative). By taking the time to complete a thorough analysis of a particular target population’s needs, it is much easier to understand the needs that are the focus of the potential program. For example, one obvious concern in one population might turn out to be merely a symptom of a deeper root problem which is masked. Needs assessments allow human services professionals to pinpoint those programs that will provide the greatest help. In program development as well as evaluation it is essential to match different types of needs to the services a program provides.

In this Discussion, you will explore the four different types of needs and formulate your own definition for each type. You will devise practical examples of each type of need for the homeless population. You will also consider the effect of designing a program to target only one type of need and compare that with one addressing a variety of needs.

To prepare for this Discussion:  

· Review the assigned section in Chapter 1 in your course textand think about the different types of questions you would need to ask to prepare for a needs assessment.

· Review Chapter 2 in your course textand consider how the five stages in program planning help structure program design. Think of the consequences of failing to adequately address any of the steps.

· Review Chapter 4 in your course textand think about the four different perspectives on need and how they impact the planning process.

· Review the section “Needs” in the text Poverty: An International Glossary and think about how the four categories described correspond to what is in your textbook.

· Consider the homeless population in your own community. Think about how you might determine the normative, expressed, perceived, and relative needs of this population.

With these thoughts in mind:

By Day 4

Post a brief description of the homeless population in your community or the community you selected. Then, explain the normative, expressed, perceived, and relative needs of this population. Finally, explain which type of need you think is the most important to address in a human services program for the homeless. Justify your response with references to the Learning Resources.

Assignment: Assuring Proper Measurement of Need Through Identification

Imagine that you have been tasked with creating a program to address malnutrition in preschool-age children in your small town. You helped to design a similar program in the large city where you previously worked, and in order to save time and resources, you use the design of that program to plan for this new small town. Are there inherent problems with such an approach? Is it possible to have a one-size-fits-all approach to addressing needs?

It is important that as a program planner and evaluator you determine the unique needs of each client by gathering information, conducting surveys, and collecting data. You should also determine the nature of the needs (i.e., whether the needs are normative, expressed, perceived, or relative) so that you can formulate appropriate conclusions. Because needs assessment is an inexact science, it is important to create as thorough a picture of the situation as possible to accurately determine the needs of your target population. This approach ensures that you address the causes rather than the symptoms of problems and allows you to target the clients’ most pressing or urgent needs.

To prepare for this Assignment:

· Review Chapter 3 in your course text, focusing on the framework for program analysis. Reflect on how using the steps listed will assist with identifying the real need when exploring a social problem.

· Review Chapter 4 in your course text and think about which of the four different perspectives would be most appropriate for dealing with a homeless population.

· Review the two newspapers about homelessness, Street Sense and Homeless Voice. You can also search for street newspapers from your own city or a city you select. Think about how the needs expressed by the homeless population in the street newspapers may differ from their actual needs and the needs you may have expected.

· Pay particular attention to the types of needs you can identify from the information covered in the newspapers about homelessness you selected. Think about what additional information is necessary to identify the real needs of the homeless population in your community.

· Think about the needs of the homeless population in your community. Consider the importance of accurately understanding the needs of this population when developing programs to offer assistance.

The Assignment (1–2 pages):

· Explain how perceived needs of the homeless in your community may be different from their actual needs.

· Explain the importance of understanding the accurate needs of populations during the development of a program hypothesis and plan.

· Explain possible methods for gathering the accurate needs information for the homeless population in your
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